Robert Ashton

Return to Class of 1944

Robert Ashton08/07/2016
John Robert “Bob” Ashton, DDS, 90, recently of Iowa City, longtime dentist, and resident of Knoxville and Des Moines passed away August 7, 2016, following a brief illness.

John Robert Ashton was born October 18, 1925, in Knoxville, Iowa; the son of Ned and Helen (Stentz) Ashton. After high school, Bob earned his D.D.S. from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 1950. On August 3, 1952, he married Neola Schuttinga of Prairie City, Iowa.

Bob enlisted in the US Air Force in 1952 and was sworn in while on their honeymoon in Bakersfield, California. He was stationed in Montgomery, Alabama, and Chaumont, France, where he rose to the rank of Captain. His wife accompanied him on these assignments.

After an honorable discharge, Bob and Neola returned to Knoxville where he would continue his dental practice for more than 40 years, often taking courses to update his skills. There they would raise their three children.

During his practice, he once remarked, “I like my work, I like my patients, I like my staff and I like my colleagues.” They spent many years of retirement living at 3100 Grand Ave in Des Moines until moving to Iowa City to be near family.

He was a world traveler and adventurer. As a member of the Iowa Mountaineers, he summited Devil’s Tower in Wyoming in the early ‘60s and more recently at the age of 87, repelled from the Federal Building in Des Moines, with Neola, to raise funds for the Special Olympics.

He especially enjoyed meeting people from all cultural backgrounds on his travels. Despite language barriers, he always found a way to meet and engage the locals. His travels included volunteer dental trips to Trinidad, Tobago and Haiti.

Trips also included those with People to People and Friendship Force. This love for travel and cultural respect has been shared and passed on to his children and their children.

Bob could often be seen wearing his Seabiscuit cap, which he received as a paid extra in the 2003 movie, Seabiscuit.

Bob lived a full life, including spelunking, hiking, mountain climbing, water skiing, piloting small aircraft, reading, sailing, camping, Hawkeye athletics and of course…his family!

He leaves his wife of 64 years, Neola; children, John R. Ashton, Jr. (Rev. Karen) of Proctor, Minnesota, Margaret A. Pardini (Benet d.) of Solon, Iowa and Ned C. Ashton (Melissa) of Solon, Iowa; eight grandchildren; one niece and one nephew.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Charles and wife Marjorie Ashton (St.Louis), son-in-law, Dr. Benet Pardini (Solon) and his sister-in-law and husband Marcia and Walter Caldwell (Keokuk), all of whom he had a close relationship.

In accordance with Bob and Neola’s wishes, he has deeded his body to the University of Iowa Department of Anatomy, to benefit future generations. A private family remembrance will be held.

His memberships included the Iowa Dental Society, University of Iowa Alumni, Rotary International Fellow, Shrine International, S.C.O.R.E, Grace United Methodist Church of Des Moines, Iowa Mountaineers and People to People.